West Des Moines began its life as a small railroad town called Valley Junction. Incorporated in 1893 and now located at the juncture of Interstate 80 and Interstate 35, the town quickly grew to the thriving metropolitan area it remains today. Known for offering a high quality of life, West Des Moines is still one of the fastest-growing cities in the state of Iowa. The population of West Des Moines is approximately 55,000.
West Des Moines has taken the shopping industry to a higher level than any of the surrounding communities. Prominent shopping areas include:
Education is an important aspect of life in West Des Moines, and the city provides public education to not only its citizens but also the citizens of the nearby cities of Urbandale and Windsor Heights. With nine elementary schools, three junior high schools, an alternative high school, a high school for 9th grade only, and one high school for grades 10 through 12, West Des Moines consistently shows a higher-than-average test score rating for the more than 8,000 students in the community school district. Other educational opportunities for West Des Moines residents include the area's private schools:
In addition to the private schools, there are a variety of local community colleges, state colleges, and universities:
The city of West Des Moines has a mostly urban population of more than 55,000. Neighborhoods and districts of West Des Moines accommodate around 21,000 houses, of which more than 19,000 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than 60 percent are owner-occupied. The median home price in West Des Moines is much higher than the statewide median price.
Housing in West Des Moines consists of single-family homes, townhomes, mobile homes, lofts, and apartments. From budget-friendly housing options to upscale million-dollar homes, West Des Moines balances housing needs for all of its residents, a fact that is critical to the continued economic growth of the city.
Valley Junction, the original railroad junction on which West Des Moines grew, is a historic neighborhood that has many unusual businesses, including antique shops, art galleries, and gift and floral shops. Side by side with restaurants and general stores, Valley Junction also hosts a farmers market each Thursday night from May through September.
The Village of Ponderosa is a new planned community that features lots of residential housing options, from single family homes to townhomes to condos to lofts.
The leading industries are educational, health and social services, and finance and insurance. West Des Moines has a relatively low unemployment rate of 1.7 percent.
Some of the large employers in West Des Moines include Hy-Vee Inc., Care Initiatives Inc., Farm Bureau Financial Services, and the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care.
The multitude of events held annually in West Des Moines continues to promote a city that's popular with residents and tourists alike.